Ma turned 90 years old last Tuesday. Ordinarily, I would have held a holy day of obligation on the Sunday before. This year, I had a conflict as Sunday was the day The Eldest was to move back into her dorm. I had thought I could hold the festivities on Saturday, but after dealing with Dad's illness, doing Weeble laundry, and trying to get The Eldest organized, I just didn't have the energy to deal with a party. The house was a wreck with health and beauty items, office supplies, snacks, and other sundry items that needed to go live at college. So I decided if I had time, I'd drop in on Monday (Labor Day) or Tuesday (Ma's birthday). I'd bring a cake and a bouquet of flowers and call it good.
Ma was pleasantly surprised by our visit especially because The Young One had come for a visit, too. She thought everyone had forgotten about her. Dad had gone out (See The Happy Wanderer) and she was left alone. She had also fallen earlier that morning too, but that might have been a sympathy ploy.
As I was getting the cake ready to serve, Ma served me a slice of guilt. In all fairness, she did not comment to make me feel guilt, but it was the way I interpreted her comment.
"Did you ever think you get this far?"
"Ninety years old? No, never. I told your father I wanted a big party, but he didn't bother."
"Oh." The guily version of "Oh, Wow."
And for a split second, I took a bite out of the guilt slice. I could have had her and Dad over for cake and coffee on Saturday. I didn't have to do a seven course meal. So the house was a disaster, the family would have been too polite to remark about my lack of housekeeping skills. I just didn't want to expend the effort.
Ma said she wanted a big party. She was probably thinking of the big party Uncle Salvatore had for his 80th birthday, about five years ago. His son had hired a function hall, invited friends and relatives and given his father a surprise party.
A surprise party. That would have been nice. Except all her relatives and friends are dead. Sad but true. We would have had to hold the festivities at the Holy Name Cemetary where the bulk of the relatives are buried.
I suppose I could have tried talking The Brother into making an appearance for cake and coffee at Ma's. I didn't want to make him feel guilty. Ma would have been very happy to The Brother and his family and me and mine sans The Eldest. Auntie Rose and Grandma Celeste would be smiling down at us from the wall of pictures. But can you imagine the horror of having 91 candles, open flame and all of Ma's papers around? Yup, would sure clean the place out, but as I said before I don't want to be there when it happens.